FWIW. Michigan doesn't seem inclined to get re-involved.
tom crean suuuuuucks
3/6/2014 – Michigan 84, Indiana 80 – 23-7, 15-3 Big Ten
Hello. I shoot 69%. They gave me a hat. [Fuller]
Arizona's lost, Virginia's lost, Wisconsin's lost, Duke's lost, Michigan State's lost, everyone's lost. They've all done so against teams ranging from mediocre to horrible. Losing is not hard; not losing is super hard. Michigan hasn't lost but three times in an 18 game Big Ten schedule and won the league by a staggering three-game margin. That's hard.
Michigan's done this despite being "soft" by any reasonable definition. Poke an opposing fan in a bad mood and they will hurl this charge. It's hard to dispute. Michigan's defense hovers around 100th in Kenpom. Their rebounding is middling at best. They do not steal the ball or block shots; they're dead last in the league at preventing two pointers from going in. Tom Izzo looks ready to die and is throwing most of his team under the bus for being softbatch, and his outfit is second in the league.
Meanwhile, here are the conference records of teams that finished last in two-point defense in the past ten years: 4-14, 4-14, 7-11, 4-14, 9-9, 1-17, 2-14, 6-10, 1-15, 3-13, 2-14.
This is a parade of Carmody-era Northwestern teams and anybody-era Penn State with the occasional outlier thrown in. You may be familiar with one of those outliers. That 9-9 record was John Beilein's first tourney team at Michigan, Stu and Zack and Manny and a Crisler eruption. Michigan broke through with a statistical indicator that usually means you're Penn State. A bad version of Penn State. Michigan got to the second round of the tourney.
This year's league-worst two point defense annihilated what's statistically the best conference in the country. Last year Michigan took a defense that entered the NCAA tourney in the 70s and charged into the national title game.
This is not a normal thing. Every year, people pull profiles of past NCAA champions out and dismiss Michigan because they don't have enough defense. Michigan does not seem to notice. They are too busy playing NBA Jam.
Michigan must be approaching the practical limit of offensive efficiency. Sometimes, like first halves against Nebraska and Illinois, they approach the theoretical limit.
Over the past decade only a half-dozen teams exceeded Michigan's current output, and they are generally 30 win teams: Chris Paul at Wake Forest, the uber-loaded 2009 Carolina squad that dismantled MSU in the title game, that one year Jon Diebler hit 50% from three off of Jared Sullinger kickouts. These teams are juggernauts, charging through major-conference regular seasons with two or three losses.
This year, the teams scraping the ceiling are not juggernauts. Creighton, Duke, and Michigan are probing these heights with the aid of the sometimes-goofy new rules, but they've all lost at least six games already. None will be top seeds. All have defenses ranging from 80th to 100th on Kenpom. All have offenses that are otherworldly.
Together they comprise a new version of contender, a major-conference version of three-point sniping underdogs. Each takes 40% of their shots from behind the line and connects on 40% of their attempts. The other teams at the top of the the three-point-make charts are more often Utah State and Drake than they are major conference teams.
This year, the feisty 12 shooting down a five-seed has migrated into the protected seeds, with all the rights and privileges therein. Chaos beckons. I've got no idea what's going to happen, but I know that it is going to be crazy. Stock up on subs.
Hall of fame. If you get three encomiums in one career you're a MGoHall of Fame lock. Jordan Morgan has cleared the bar. He has been here for the entire building process and now stands at the top of the Big Ten, net in teeth. Those who stay will be champions. (And most of those who don't.) Hiring John Beilein was a good idea.
Anyway: Indiana came out with a gameplan that was essentially a Jordan Morgan diss track, starting 6'7" freshman Devin Davis and switching every screen. Morgan was not about to take that slap in the face on senior day. He posted, he rebounded, he kept Michigan in the game during the period where Indiana literally could not miss. He ended 7/8 from the floor with five offensive rebounds and a couple steals.
His makes showed an advanced knowledge of how to finish without the ability to play above the rim, especially the bucket on which one dribble led to a tight-angle layup around Vonleh. He just finished a season shooting 69% as a 6'8" non-leaper. Sure sure sure a lot of those were put on a platter for him, but there are a lot of guys who get things put on a platter for them who don't shoot anywhere near 69%. I mean, his ORtg is higher than anyone on the team other than Albrecht.
BONKERS. Speaking of ORTG, the worst on the team still belongs to Derrick Walton, and his number is 110, up 11 points from midseason. Indiana has one guy above that—Ferrell, obvs. Vonleh is just about tied with Walton.
Michigan's offense is just bonkers this year.
Obligatory photo of everyone else smiling because they did something spectacular and difficult as Jon Horford mediates or something. We would not let you down in a matter this important.
you may be on the court at Crisler after winning the Big Ten by three games
I am on the court as well
but I am also under the Banyan tree
inventing the world anew every moment [Fuller]
Will Sheehey can't check this no mo [Fuller]
Point guard on Stauskas: dead. Hail the Beilein adjustment matrix. Michigan started out against Michigan State by obliterating MSU's previous defensive strategy. A collection of back cuts and down screens got Michigan a bunch of looks at the basket and forced MSU to stop denying the perimeter. At that point Michigan could just run their offense, which was their offense and therefore ridiculous.
Michigan's Borg-like ability to adapt to phaser frequencies was also on display in this one. We spent the better part of a month fretting about opponents shutting down Nik Stauskas by sticking their point guards on him. This strategy was initiated in Michigan's loss at Assembly Hall (Yes That Assembly Hall). Stauskas again drew Ferrell. Results: 21 points on 17 shot equivalents, two assists, one turnover. Stauskas got quick post ups for buckets, drove past Ferrell, shot over Ferrell. Etc.
Stauskas has put up 25, 15, 21, 24, and 21 in his last five games. He's adapted to little guys in his grill, mostly by raining it in from three, but here the drives were also effective.
Zone. The 1-3-1 was the difference in the game. It shot Indiana's uncharacteristically low turnover rate into the stratosphere and didn't give up any worse shots than the man to man was. The 1-3-1 is inherently a high risk, high reward defense that does give up a lot of GRAHHHHH dunks, offensive rebounds, and open threes. It compensates by turning the opponent over. So when you're giving up a lot of GRAHHHHH dunks and open threes anyway, you might as well get some turnovers.
It is frustrating that Michigan did not try out a packed-in 2-3 and dare anyone not named Ferrell to raise up over it. They only have so much time to work on things, I guess, but given Indiana's struggles against a 2-3 it seems like it would have been something to try once it became apparent that dribble penetration was there for anyone who wanted it.
Instead, the 1-3-1 worked just fine. Indiana had 12 second half turnovers, many of them forced by the zone and specifically Caris LeVert's ever-extending hands. He's only credited with two steals in the box score but his impact was much larger than that as the flypaper dude at the top.
Entering the tourney, having the 1-3-1 in Michigan's back pocket is a major asset, especially given that they're down to 93rd in defense on Kenpom. They may have to change what they're doing at some point when the man to man just isn't working.
coachin' in a van down by the river [Bryan Fuller]
Clap on, Clappy. Michigan got the ball back up three with 39 seconds left. Indiana did not trap or press; they eventually fouled Spike Albrecht with 17 seconds left on the shot clock. Crean was apparently screaming at his team to foul for a good 10 seconds of that delay, even so that's just… wow. Let's just say I can't see a Beilein team not knowing that you should try to steal the ball and foul quickly in that situation.
GET OFF THE COURT, SCHRUTE. Crean actually shoved one of his players then forced the referee to box him out on one Indiana possession. Beilein had already been hit with a technical for saying something along the lines of "dagnabit," and Crean's on the court affecting the play. Nothing.
They've got to do something about this in the offseason. Dump your horrible charge changes* and actually enforce technicals against coaches who show up on the court. For the love of pants.
*[Semi-weekly charge bitching goes here. Adriean Payne had been set for a good two seconds on this "block":
Worst block/charge call of the year? pic.twitter.com/6OMl5bILXY
— World of Isaac (@WorldofIsaac) March 9, 2014
Meanwhile, Spike Albrecht can't get a call because he's tiny and flies halfway across the arena when a 6'8" guy puts his shoulder into him. It looks like a flop because Spike Albrecht is tiny. And then Morgan gets a call on the 1-3-1 as he slides under Troy Williams after Williams is already in the air. They need to simplify the call, because the refs simply cannot make it.]
"DAGNABIT" works. Indiana got called for a bunch of travels in the second half after Beilein's tech. I hate coach ref histrionics, but they apparently work.
Brackets. Palm hasn't budged on Michigan as the #2 in the West with Arizona despite the carnage around them. Brad Evans of Yahoo has Michigan fifth overall, presumably matched with Villanova in the East. Lunardi has Michigan the #2 in the South opposite Florida. Crashing the Dance's algorithm has Michigan, Kansas, Syracuse, and Wichita State in a veritable dead heat for spots 4-7.
While it's unlikely Wichita is in any danger of dropping off the one line—algorithms are having slight issues with a 33-0 MVC team—it's anyone's guess how the twos get ordered. At this point it looks like Michigan is a lock to get one; hopefully they can play themselves out of the West. Indianapolis is obviously ideal for the regionals, and it does seem like Michigan can play themselves there by winning the BTT. Kansas and Virginia losses in their tournaments would help.
One thing that seems assured: Michigan will be in Milwaukee for the first weekend. Save Wisconsin, their competitors for that spot (Creighton, Iowa State, Cincinnati, MSU) are probably incapable of passing M on the S-curve.
Meanwhile, the Big Ten tournament sets up nicely for Michigan with Iowa, Michigan State, and Wisconsin on the other side of the bracket:
Indiana is clearly a bad matchup for M; everyone else they could meet before the final is manageable.
The most interesting bracketology debate, by the way, is Duke. Palm had them a 5 seed before their win over UNC, citing a near-total lack of accomplishments on the road. They're now a weak 4 on his bracket. Lunardi still has them a 2. Lunardi's got a rep for not being particularly good until late, when he talks to people close to the committee. If Duke does end up a fringe Sweet 16 seed, that is point Palm.
Congratsketball. Well done, Nebrasketball. By beating Wisconsin you've moved yourselves definitively off the bubble and finished a near-undefeated home season. And the only thing you lose this offseason is Ray Gallegos.
|WHAT||Michigan at Indiana|
|WHERE||Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana|
|WHEN||1 pm Eastern, Sunday|
|LINE||Michigan -5 (KenPom)|
|TV||CBS (PBP: Ian Eagle; Analyst: Bill Raftery)|
Michigan's hasn't won in Assembly Hall since 2009 and were swept in last season's series against the Hoosiers, costing the Wolverines a potential Big Ten title. (Things ended up working out juuuuuuust fine.) This year's Indiana squad barely resembles last year's conference champions, as this graphic from Inside The Hall—which notably excises Mitch McGary's stats here—displays quite clearly:
Gone are two national player of the year candidates in Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo; same with snipers Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls, and even the valuable depth provided by Remy Abell.
Sophomore point guard Yogi Ferrell has transitioned remarkably well from being the fifth scoring option last season to this year's go-to guy, averaging 17.3 points and 4.0 assist per game while improving his three-point shooting from 30.3% on 76 attempts to 41.4% on 128 attempts and cutting down on turnovers. His finishing inside the arc (43.2% 2-pt) still leaves much to be desired; in all other facets, however, he's become an excellent point guard.
The other familiar face is that of senior wing Will Sheehey, who's gone the opposite direction of Farrell; after being a highly efficient sixth man a season ago, he's struggled mightily with his outside shot (25.9% 3-pt, down from 34.6%) as a starter, with an uptick in turnovers to boot. His decent mid-range jumper and solid athleticism keep him a threat off the dribble, but he's been a big disappointment this season.
Indiana's most-used lineup features three freshmen surrounding the aforementioned returners. The most prominent is 6'10" center and potential lottery pick Noah Vonleh, a monster on the boards (10th nationally in DReb%, 115th in OReb%) with a quickly developing post-up game. Offensively, he's an efficient inside scorer who gets to the line frequently and even shows flashes of an Adreian Payne-esque outside shot (10/18 3-pt); turnovers are his only real bugaboo on that end, and he makes up for a lot of that by altering plenty of shots on defense.
Über-athletic 6'7" wing Troy Williams is another huge threat on the offensive glass and a decent finisher (and superlative dunker) when he gets near the hoop; right now, that's about the extent of his offensive arsenal, as his outside shooting is non-existent (2/20 3-pt) and he's turning the ball over on nearly a quarter of his possessions used.
6'4" freshman guard Stanford Robinson earned his first career starts in the last three games, replacing grad-year transfer Evan Gordon—brother of one-year Hoosier wonder Eric Gordon—at the two. Robinson gets almost all of his production at or near the rim; his jump shot is very much a work-in-progress. Gordon is shooting 49% from two and 33% from three on the year and has struggled mightily in his last four games, shooting a combined 4/20 from the field with just two FTA in that span—his production is heavily reliant on an iffy outside shot.
Backup bigs Hanner Mosquera-Perea, Jeremy Hollowell, and Devin Davis have all seen sporadic playing time behind Vonleh and Williams. Mosquera-Perea and Davis provide good shot-blocking and rebounding while committing far too many turnovers given their limited offensive roles. Hollowell fancies himself a stretch four but has shot very poorly on jumpers while struggling to finish around the rim; he doesn't provide nearly the same level of rebounding as the other two backup bigs.
Unless you count holding serve at home by three points against #21 Wisconsin, a win looking less impressive by the day, Indiana's resume is entirely devoid of a quality win—their next-best conference victory came at home against #80 Illinois, while their best non-conference triumph came on a neutral floor versus #105 Washington. They are 3-7 against KP100 teams, were blown out in Assembly Hall against Michigan State, and lost on their own floor against fourth place(!!!!!!!!!!!!) Northwestern.
Now that we're partway into conference play, I'll start posting four factors charts for all the games and Big Ten games only, with sample size issues obviously coming into play on the latter for a while.
Four factors, all games (national ranks in parentheses):
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||49.3 (183)||21.9 (328)||39.8 (10)||49.6 (36)|
|Defense||44.9 (37)||18.3 (178)||26.5 (14)||33.9 (52)|
Conference-only (eight games, Big Ten ranks in parentheses):
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||45.3 (9)||22.4 (12)||34.8 (3)||40.4 (5)|
|Defense||49.5 (9)||17.7 (5)||25.3 (3)||30.9 (4)|
Indiana can't shoot, which is both a problem (obviously) and rather bizarre to watch after last year's squad made it rain on the regular; the Hoosiers are 11th in the conference in two-point percentage (42.1% in B1G play) and while Yogi Ferrell is keeping their three-point percentage respectable (35.5%), that's on the second-fewest attempts in the league. While their ability to crash the boards and get to the line keep the offense from being Northwestern-level terrible, the lack of shooting combined with ample turnovers has them tenth in the Big Ten in offensive efficiency.
The defense ranks fourth in the conference in efficiency, propped up by great rebounding and a lack of fouls. Their field goal defense has actually fallen off a cliff in Big Ten play—opponents have consistently shot well over 50% on two-pointers, and if threes are falling Indiana is in deep trouble, as they allow the third-most attempts from beyond the arc in the conference.
Keep the rebounding close. Indiana is much like Purdue—their jump shots are liable to go anywhere, which makes it difficult to keep them off the offensive boards. The Hoosier have more size and athleticism than the Boilermakers, which rebounded 39% of their misses—to Michigan's 24%—on Thursday night against the Wolverines. It's unreasonable to hope for Michigan to keep Vonleh and Co. from having the edge in rebounding; at the very least, however, they need to minimize the number of rebounds around the basket that can result in immediate putback attempts. Long rebounds are less of an issue against a team lacking much in the way of shooting.
Hang with them early. As Brian Kudron of Genuinely Sarcastic helpfully noted today, Indiana has a history of jumping out to big early leads against Michigan in Assembly Hall:
2006-07: 11-0 IU at 18:16 (LMAO) 2008-09: 19-8 IU at 12:28 2010-11: 22-11 IU at 7:09 2011-12: 17-6 IU at 12:02 2012-13: 18-7 IU at 15:25
— Brian (@BKudron) February 1, 2014
Mercifully, Michigan didn't play at Indiana in 2007-08, Beilein's first season at the helm. The Wolverines would recover to win just one of these games. Not only is it helpful to keep the Assembly Hall crowd from becoming a major factor early on, there's also this: the Hoosiers have worn down in second halves in Big Ten play, with a -1 total scoring margin in the first half and a -20 margin in the second half and overtime.
Working hypothesis: this has a lot to do with Yogi Ferrell not having a viable backup—he's played 33 or more minutes in all but one Big Ten game, including a 43-minute outing in their overtime loss to Illinois. Stay close early and Michigan should be able to wear down the Hoosiers over the course of the game.
Stay out of early foul trouble. Easier said than done in Assembly Hall, obviously. With Vonleh and Williams providing tons of athleticism and rebounding up front, Michigan needs Jordan Morgan or Jon Horford on the floor at all times to mitigate their effectiveness. This will also be a big test for Glenn Robinson III, who's been very quiet on the glass in Big Ten play with the notable exception of the Iowa game. If those guys pick up some cheap ones, Vonleh can go to work in the post and Williams can take advantage of the lack of depth at the four—Zak Irvin's DReb% is currently lower than Nik Stauskas'.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 5
Winn notes Iowa's efficiency margin is bolstered by two blowouts of Northwestern, though scoring as well as they have against the Wildcats' bafflingly good defense is more of a positive sign than I think Winn gives them credit for.
Indiana could have used Creek (#1, left) or Abell (right)
Michigan's next Big Ten opponent is Indiana, an outfit that's 3-5 in conference, 13-8 overall, headed for an NIT bid at best. While Indiana lost buckets of talent to graduation, they didn't have to be this bad. Tom Crean screwed himself.
I give Tom Izzo a lot of crap around these parts for his constant histrionics, but 90% of that is pure rivalry spiciness. I hate Tom Izzo, because he is extraordinarily easy to hate. But I simultaneously treasure Tom Izzo because he is easy to hate in that way. When not indulging in rivalry business, I don't actually mind the guy. He is clean. Full stop. I don't want to hear anything about Appling and Payne; we've got our own issues in that department. I hate the fact that he gets away with being on the court and his kids can grab without the Big Ten reacting, but that's just basketball stuff.
I hate two Big Ten coaches more than Izzo. One is obvious: Bo Ryan, promulgator of murderously slow swampball and headman of a program that just accidentally happens to put more feet under jumpshooters' ankles than anyone else in the country. But y'all know that because you've read one thing I've said about Wisconsin basketball.
The second is Tom Crean, who brought SEC-style oversigning to the Big Ten. Last year he shuffled off a recruit who met NCAA regulations but ended up at a prep school and is now at Syracuse. This year he needed to dump another guy and ended up ejecting two, Remy Abell and Maurice Creek. But unlike Calipari or Saban, Tom Crean is so inept that his callous disregard of the whole college thing is actually hurting his team.
You see, Rudy, Indiana can't shoot worth two damns. They're 223rd in three point percentage; they are 308th in 3PA/FGA. They're only being kept that high because Yogi Ferrell made an unexpected and impressive burst from a 30% shooter to a 41% shooter. Nobody else on their team can shoot. The only guy who even bothers to try is Will Sheehey, the mediocre senior-to-be who didn't get cut.
The rest of the team occasionally chucks one up in an unsuccessful attempt to keep 'em honest, with results much like the ones Michigan saw against Purdue, their most recent opponent and the other team in the state of Indiana that couldn't hit the broad side of that dude named Pork Chop in eight tries. This is the main reason Indiana is adrift. Teams pack it in against them with impunity.
You did it to yourself
The help Indiana needs was sitting on Indiana's bench last year.
Abell's currently sitting out a year before getting on the court for Xavier, a 15-5 Big East team currrently ranked about 40 spots above Indiana on Kenpom. Abell hit 16 of 33 three-pointers as a 12-minute-per-game sophomore last year; he had a healthy FT rate and an ORTG of 116. This would be a close second to Ferrell this year in terms of IU ORTG, and if Abell's three point shooting was anywhere near what it seemed like it might be he would be a 30 minute per game staple just to spread the floor.
Meanwhile, Maurice Creek was as a fifth-year grad student and therefore immediately eligible at George Washington. Last year the Colonials were below .500 and out of the KP100; this year they are 17-3, in the top 40, and a clear Bracket Matrix at-large. Maurice Creek starts. He takes more shots than anyone on the team, hits threes at a nearly 40% rate, and is nationally ranked in eFG%. He is exactly what Clappy needs on his team of tall athletic guys who seem to be encountering a basketball for the first time every night.
Creek could have been a sentimental legend at Indiana, the guy who came back from injury after injury to spearhead the team as a fifth year senior and preserve their tourney streak. Instead, he's a vastly improved GW's go-to guy as Tom Crean's inept Hoosiers founder.
There isn't really a point here except maybe you should run around in circles and go "eeee" a bit because sometimes the universe does poke the right people in the eye. Clap on, Clappy, as Mo Creek plays in a tournament you won't get invited to.
Kickstarter, eh! After many requests we have added a couple of kickstarter tiers for international folks: 20 bucks for one mag, 40 for both, and we'll eat the extra costs for anyone who goes for the 50+ tiers.
Reminder: we have made our base goal and are now shooting for the 50k stretch goal, whereupon the basketball/hockey preview mag is a real thing on paper.
Meanwhile if you're in the giving mood check out Marlin Jackson's Fight For Life charity. Very good cause. Seth posted extensively on what they do this morning.
Our linemen are a wonderful freak show. They're all having huge lumberjack beards and looking like Freddie Mercury and, uh, this:
That's walk-on Dan Gibbs's twitter avatar. We probably should have started him against Jesse Williams, who Gibbs is seen riding. Equal to the task is Gibbs's twitter avatar: DJBunyan.
Speaking of offensive linemen, Elliott Mealer has shaved the beard.
as if millions of follicles suddenly cried out in terror
We will always remember you, ZZ Top beard.
This year's OL has a lot to live up to. They are off to a good start, at least.
Michigan has a five star basketball recruit for the second straight year. (isportsweb)
It's too bad he can't compete with the big boys. Rivals has given Zak Irvin the GRIII bump, moving up ten spots after his Mr. Basketball season in Indiana. This nets him the coveted fifth star. Walton is #37—also a ten-spot bump—while Mark Donnal is #111, one of the last four-stars. IIRC Donnal was just inside the top 100 last time. He got one of those "you stay the same and we find twelve guys we like a lot" downgrades.
Indiana's six-person oversigning extravaganza is the best class in the Big Ten according to the sites. Michigan is second, #13 nationally at ESPN. Illinois and Wisconsin are next, but it's always hard to figure out how to rank basketball classes because they're so divergent in terms of numbers.
Speaking of Tom Crean…
You're Nick Saban, dude. A year after Indiana signee Ron Patterson was told he couldn't enroll at Indiana in August—ie, the Les Miles—Tom Crean signs six players and is oversigned by one going into the late signing period. Out you go, Remy Abell. Indiana currently has 13 players. They've just offered Jaren Sina, the former Northwestern commit who opened up his recruitment when Bill Carmody was fired.
Now is the time on Sprockets when brows are furrowed about young men and how it's disappointing they've left the program and etc. etc. etc. It's not disappointing, it is mathematically required by Coach Schrute's recruiting. Someone was going to leave, full stop. There's no difference between what's going down at Indiana and Nick Saban's annual purge. In this, OSU and Michigan fans are united.
The thing is: Crean's just flat out saying they're oversigning, which is at least more honest than Saban's approach.
Again, this was not unexpected, and IU coach Tom Crean admitted as much when he spoke with assembled media in Bloomington, Ind., Thursday afternoon. He knew he might have two guys leaving early, in addition to three seniors (Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford, Derek Elston) which is, Crean told the Indianapolis Star, "one of the reasons we oversigned."
Wait ... what?
Yes, the Hoosiers enter the second straight summer with more players signed than scholarships to give out — this time 14 for 13. (Last season, IU's 15 signed players ended with senior guard Matt Roth's seemingly confused, thensuddenly uber-positive, departure, and a fortuitous turn in freshman Ron Patterson's academic ineligibility.)
Even without further departures Michigan will go into next year with an open scholarship. Purdue's down to ten. Schrute is looking for more guys to run off. Hard to have the moral high ground as a conference when you… uh… don't have it.
Godspeed, Tom Hammond. The Great and Powerful Hammond is being replaced by some guy named Hicks on Notre Dame broadcasts. A tip of the cap to a man who overcame his fear of cameras to be on television, like, all the time. We'll always have the picture and the tie.
See you around the rhythmic gymnastics odeon. /brohug
Baseball making it happen. Rich Maloney's ouster last year was sudden and controversial. So far it looks to have been the right move as the previously moribund base-to-ball team is currently 7-2 in the Big Ten behind freshman starting pitcher Evan Hill's dominating 1.89 ERA. Baseball America takes note:
The future looks bright for Michigan, which has a strong freshman core leading its resurgence this spring. Michigan’s best starter has been freshman lefthander Evan Hill (6-1, 1.89), whose projectable 6-foot-5 frame helped him rank No. 165 on the BA 500 heading into last year’s draft. Hill still is just scratching the surface of his potential, but he is maturing quickly and has settled nicely into the Saturday starter role.
“He still is a projection guy—his best years are ahead of him,” Bakich said. “But he’s very talented, he works extremely hard. The mental game has been critical for him, because he’s learned how to breathe and focus on executing the next pitch, that’s been a big part of his development mentally. But he’s still a long, lean, tall, thin guy who has a good fastball, and he’s got good offspeed pitches. He just doesn’t always have the command that he’s going to have in the future of his secondary stuff. But a lot of his success has come from pitching off his fastball. He throws a cutter and a curveball, and when those are on, he usually does pretty well.”
Two other freshmen have earned starting jobs on the left side of the infield and in the top half of the batting order. Travis Maezes (.308/.396/.421) has shown good athleticism, instincts and arm strength at shortstop while hitting in the No. 2 hole. And third baseman Jacob Cronenworth (.339/.397/.460 with two homers and a team-leading 26 RBIs) has been very steady in the cleanup spot. He has a balanced, line-drive approach from the left side of the plate to go along with good speed. Cronenworth also has a strong arm at the hot corner, and he can run his fastball up to 92 mph off the mound, where he has emerged as Michigan’s closer, posting a 1.06 ERA, six saves and a 16-3 strikeout-walk mark in 17 innings.
That's a hell of a freshman class.
Michigan's coming off consecutive sweeps of MSU and Penn State; they take on ND today at 4, with Eastern coming in tomorrow at 6. If you're in Chicago, Michigan plays Northwestern at Wrigley Saturday.
It was a bet with Zak Irvin. A picture of a displeased Gary Harris wearing a Maize Rage t-shirt made the rounds on twitter recently, and I was all like "dude lost a bet with Zak Irvin?"
M&GB: Can you tell us about that picture of Gary Harris that surfaced on twitter of him wearing a Maize Rage t-shirt?
Irvin: (Laughs) As a matter of fact I was just talking with him about that a couple hours ago but that was from last year. When Michigan played Michigan State we had a bet that whichever team won, the loser had to wear that team’s shirt to school the next day, and Michigan won so Gary had to wear a Michigan t-shirt all the next day.
Just not a recent one.
Not playing coy about Dymonte Thomas. Courtney Avery's job is officially in serious danger given the way Michigan usually talks about freshmen. No one's bothering to say Dymonte Thomas is a long way off or whatever:
"He’s a very conscientious young man. For a guy that comes that should have been at his prom to be here the whole time, and for him to pick it up like he did ... Dymonte Thomas had a very, very good spring for a freshman.”
So there's that. He's playing. Starting? We'll see.
Cumong, NCAA man. Oregon and the NCAA agree that Oregon paid Willie Lyles 25k to help recruit players. Also this:
There is no information," according to the NCAA, "in the record that Lyles coerced or directed any prospect to ultimately choose Oregon. That said, Lyles did provide a meaningful recruiting advantage by orally providing background information about prospects to the coaching staff and also by serving as a conduit to facilitate communication with prospective student-athletes."
I hate you, NCAA enforcement. Oregon has proposed two years of probation and one lost scholarship for a few years. Seriously. Sic 'em, Get The Picture.
Etc.: A tribute to Trey Burke. His finest moments. Oh yes "Roger Federer as a Religious Experience" reference in regards to Trey Burke, oh yes. HSR on the end of basketball season.
UMHoops talks to 2015 SG recruit Luke Kennard. MSU is selling spots in the press box for their spring game. How much? Next question. The definition of amateurism is "whatever the NCAA says it is," and changes constantly. Four(!) Michigan players make John Gasaway's final top 25 freshmen($), with Spike Albrecht making the tail end of the list at 25. That's for show, man. David Allen Grier gets Trey Burke to smile. It is possible. Drake Harris "commitment" scarequotes are unbecoming.
"When you are winning a war almost everything that happens can be claimed to be right and wise."
~ Winston Churchill
Trey Burke works the ball up the court, and crosses mid-court with just under nine seconds left. Jordan Morgan sets a high screen on Oladipo, and in an instant the much ballyhooed pre-game narrative is wiped out of the picture. This will no longer be a symbolic battle for the Big Ten Player of the Year. Indiana's best defender is a bystander. Instead it is Cody Zeller on Burke 30 feet from the basket.
History may be written by the winners, but in sports the winners rarely read the history they write. For the victor, the simple fact of the victory can obscure whatever came before. The foibles and missteps were merely a part of the rich tapestry that was their inevitable triumph. It is the character-building fire that forges their mettle. It is for the loser, rather, to lament the components of their fate. Almost exactly a week before Jordan Morgan set his screen, Keith Appling was dribbling the ball up that same court, in a tie game, with the shot clock off, when Trey Burke stole the ball and turned the tables on all the percentages. And when a second Burke steal sealed the game, no one cared that Michigan had frittered away a ten point lead in the last four minutes, or that they had missed the front end of a one-and-one to give Michigan State one last chance. It was Sparty, rather, who spoke with the bitter tinge of "what if" of their blown opportunity to win on what should have been a final possession.
Burke gains the corner on Zeller, but only by a bit. Yogi Ferrell starts to sag off of Stauskas, but thinks better of it. Ferrell knows full well that Burke is taking this one to the rack, but Stauskas is not to be left. Christian Watford is under no such restriction on the far side against Glenn Robinson III, and he helps down. Burke isn't going to leave this one in the hands of a jump shot from a freshman, no matter how talented that freshman may be. Zeller extends an impossibly long arm over Burke, who responds in kind with a fully extended flip of the ball. Jordan Morgan has reached the free throw line.
If you are anything like me, dear Michigan fan, then there is a part of you that is relieved that it got this far. The recent history of Michigan basketball is one of repeated crashes to reality. A first NCAA berth in a decade is followed by a 15-17 season. A first Big Ten title in centuries and a four-seed leads to an early exit against Ohio (YTO). So when Michigan came out of the gates this year as an unstoppable hell-beast, there remained a little voice in your head that urged caution. Like the slave used by Julius Caesar to ride on his chariot to remind him of his mortality, the little voice kept whispering in your ear, "they are not Gods. They are merely human." When Ben Brust hit a half-court heave and Michigan was run out of the Breslin Center and utterly collapsed in Happy Valley, those whispers became screams that could not be ignored. And when Michigan went down 10-3 early, there was a part of you that said, "please not this again."
[After the jump, not this again]